New Arizona Governor’s First Signed Bill Requires all High School Students to Pass Same Test Used for Citizenship

Saturday, January 17, 2015
Gov. Doug Ducey

Arizona has become the first of what may be many states this year to require all high school graduates to have passed a civics test—the same one used by immigrants to qualify for citizenship.


Newly-elected Republican Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation Thursday that moved from committee to his desk in one day and was the first bill he signed as governor. It will apply to students graduating in 2017.


The test will be the one administered by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to prospective citizens. Students will have to get 60 out of 100 questions correct to receive a passing grade. They’ll begin taking the test in eighth grade and will have several opportunities to take and pass the exam.


Ducey had said the test was needed because of a survey that showed that 96% of students can’t pass a basic civics exam. However that survey, which was done by the Goldwater Institute, was discredited in 2009.


The governor claims to be concerned with education, but in his proposed budget unveiled Friday he offers only $74 million extra for students despite a court order calling for an additional $331 million to go to Arizona schools.


Sydney Hay of the consulting firm Silver Bullet, which is pushing the bill in other states, said as many as 18 other legislatures may pass similar laws this year.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Arizona 1st To Pass Law Requiring High-School Civics Test (by Mary Beth Faller, The Republic)

Gov. Ducey Relied On Discredited Civics Survey To Tout Law (by Bob Christie, Associated Press)

Governor Unveils Budget Cuts, Limits School Suit Costs (by Ronald J. Hansen and Mary Jo Pitzl, Arizona Republic)


Juan 9 years ago
They get to take the test in 8,9,10,11, and three times in 12. Passing it just once meets the qualification and schools with a high number of failures will get more funding to teach it. Pew Research and other studies report a stunning drop in knowledge of basic civics. Self identified as Democrats score considerably lower in civics knowledge than Republicans or Independents. This is dangerous for our democracy. The vast majority of our students can no longer identify the three branches of government, or why we have three given they also now have no idea what "checks and balances' are. They can't identify anything in the Bill of Rights, and even the few who can think hey can be changed with majority votes! The only people threatened by this are politicians who rely on ignorant electorates. For allgov to say it is "controversial" is absurd. Knowledge empowers and democracy cannot function without basic knowledge of civics

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